At the end of summer, Burgundy’s green pastures are filled with white Charolais cattle, country lanes glisten with golden strands of hay scattered as the new bales are carted in, and the neat rows of vines that follow the shape of the earth are bursting with grapes ripe for the harvest. It’s a perfect time for meandering through the wine country, stopping for some delightful bed-and-breakfast accommodations come nightfall.
Sous le Baldaquin is a one-room secret in buzzing Beaune, right in the middle of the celebrated Côte d’Or wine route between Dijon and Santenay. Once owner Yves Cantenot swings open the huge doors of his 18th-century townhouse with its serene interior garden, present time fades into the distance. You might easily imagine yourself the count, the countess or a courtesan as you mount the stone staircase to the single, very small but elegant chamber: deep purple and willow green taffeta drapes, a beribboned canopy, a Murano mirror, crystal and seashell chandeliers in the bathroom-even the leafy green vines of the garden, framed by the windows, become part of the decor. Among the scattering of antique furniture, a table holds a violet cordial in an antique flask, a glass bookcase displays a small collection of vintage haute couturehats and bags. Even the graceful double sink in the bathroom is a treasure, originally from the home of the great 19th-century French composer Hector Berlioz. To call this hidden gem romantic would be an understatement. 39 rue Maufoux, Beaune. 03.80.24.79.30. €90. website
Romance was the raison d’être of the Château des Poccards, a Tuscan-style domain built in 1805 by the Comte de Malartic to woo an Italian beauty. The cream-and-ochre villa with its grand sweeping park has become an exemplary guesthouse. After a day spent exploring the vineyards of the Côte d’Or, what could be nicer than to return to a big retro bathtub in a bathroom sparkling with uplighters and well stocked with warm towels? The five bedrooms are spacious and each is furnished differently; all have pretty terracotta floors, pale-papered walls, cream bedcovers and elegant furnishings. Some have windows on several sides so you feel you’re in the treetops when the sun streams in. An Italianate pool in the garden offers teak loungers and vineyard views. Breakfasts are excellent, served at white-clothed tables in a gracious room with a sumptuous parquet floor, a grand piano in the corner and windows opening onto a terrace. 120 route des Poccards, Hurigny, 03.85.32.08.27. From €100. website
While visiting Burgundy wine country, the Château de Chassagne-Montrachet is not to be missed. The driveway passes through a small vineyard to the château-the winery is in the middle, the five large rooms off to the right. The stark 19th-century exterior gives no hint of the modernism within: a sweeping wooden stairway, a slate and pink marble floor, stunning leather furniture and an extraordinary billiard room with under-floor lighting. The same sort of refreshing irreverence continues upstairs-you might spot an Egg chair by 20th-century Danish architect and designer Arne Jacobsen, or relish the sumptuousness of purple walls and an oak floor, or enter a room of Zen-like calm. The bathrooms are amazing; most have tubs boxed into wooden decking, and one has a double sink of rough-cast bronze mounted on rock-half hand basin, half art work. A tour of the winery comes with the room. 5 rue du Château, Chassagne-Montrachet, 03.80.21.98.57. €250. website
In the Morvan, a rocky, wooded area right in the center of Burgundy, no wine is grown at all. It almost appears lost in time, a region of farming, forests and logging with wandering paths and bubbling streams, where the adventurous can knock themselves out hiking, canoeing, biking or throwing themselves off high cliffs to paraglide. But even without the sporting life, the Morvan is a haven of peaceful, off-piste rural charm.
The Château Les Roches, a new six-room boutique B&B, is way off any beaten track at almost 500 meters (1640 ft) in altitude. More bourgeois mansion than château, part Norman gabled-roof, part turreted tower, it sits quietly behind tall gates in a small medieval village. Its young proprietors, American Tobias Yang and German Marco Stockmeyer, spent months hunting for a property and fell for this 1900-style manor built by a Parisian judge for his mistress. The judge had good taste and full pockets-you might miss a stone carving of his ladylove over the entrance but you’ll certainly catch her image in the hand-painted panels on the dining room ceiling. Careful renovations enhanced the house’s good bones: ceilings are high, bedrooms are spacious-two of them boast unusual half-moon or round windows- and bathrooms glow with beveled white tiles. From the terrace there are unobstructed views over the valley and lush forests. Unusual for a B & B, a four-course dinner is served on Thursday and Saturday nights-reservations essential. The first guests arrived in 2007 and the visitor’s book is already plump with praise. Full of promise and great value, Les Roches is already a great getaway. Rue Glanot, Mont Saint Jean, +44 7789864090. From €125. website
Originally published in the October 2008 issue of France Today.